ASTON VILLA 0, MANCHESTER CITY 1
City reduced the gap at the top of the Premier League to 12 points behind United with 10 games to play as they eased past Aston Villa with a Carlos Tevez goal deep into added time at the end of the first half.
“The Championship is not over.” insisted the Italian. “Like last year anything can happen until the last second.”
Mancini paid respects to their hosts but was relieved to have fully deserved their victory.
“I think the game was difficult. Villa is a good team, they have good players and it’s strange that they are so low down in the league.”
“The clean sheet was important and we won.
“We had four or five incredible chances to score in the first half and their ‘keeper saved everything in the second half.”
Despite only winning by the odd goal, Mancini was impressed with the contribution of his players, and praised substitute Edin Dzeko who replaced the luckless Jack Rodwell who went off with a hamstring strain
“When Edin plays like tonight I like it. He fights for every ball and provided the goal for Carlos.”
“Jack Rodwell is very unlucky, I was very happy with how he played against Chelsea and he has done his hamstring. He will be out for three or four weeks.”
“We hope that maybe Vincent Kompany will be back for the FA Cup against Barnsley on the 9th or against Everton on the 16th of March.” he added. City’s Belgian captain is still recovering from successive thigh injuries.
Ironically, the early loss of the luckless Jack Rodwell to a hamstring injury forced a re-shuffle by City who brought on Edin Dzeko and withdrew Yaya Toure into midfield which gave City more impetus as the Ivorian was able to impose himself on the game in the middle of the pitch.
Brad Guzan had earlier denied City at least a trio of first half goals and Villa were within sight of a morale boosting half time clean sheet when City pounced on a defensive error by Villa a full five minutes into added time.
A Cruyff-turn by Ciaran Clarke, the last Villa defender, proved to be a mistake as the Villa man was dispossessed by Dzeko who was pressing him and pushed the ball on to Carlos Tevez. The Argentine striker rounded Brad Guzan and passed the ball into the back of the net for his 12th goal of the season, his third against Villa this term.
Matthew Lowton kept Villa in the game in the second half after Dzeko won the ball again and fed Tevez who had beaten Guzen once again only to find the Villa youngster on the line.
Dzeko was well offside when he thought he has extended the City lead after Yaya Toure’s shot came back off the post but City were good value for their win in the end.